There are no store-bought salad dressings in my house. In my humble opinion, store bought salad dressings are over seasoned and/or over sweetened and often they contain inferior oils. The flavours are much too strong and overall, none of them taste fresh.
Salad dressings are easy to make and taste infinitely better than anything you can buy so skip the store-bought varieties and make your own. To get you started, I am sharing my top three oil-free salad dressing recipes.
Remember, oil free is not the same as fat-free. There is no shortage of contradictory information available of the benefits of adding oil to your salad – indeed to your diet. A recent study published in Science Daily found that pairing vegetables with fat matters. The study found that fewer nutrients were absorbed when using low fat dressing and that overall, salads need to be paired with the right type and right amount of fat-based dressing in order for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by the body.
Other sources of research denounce the benefits of pouring any oil (even so-called healthy oil) on your salad and suggest that a salad made from homegrown or local, organic ingredients is completely healthy all on its own. These sources indicate that vegetable oils, (yes, even olive oil) can damage the health of your arteries and that you can get all of the healthy fat you need from nuts, seeds and other whole foods such as avocados. (Click on the “Why this blog?” page for more sources citing on the dangers of consuming vegetable oils).
All three dressings below contain seeds, nuts or a combination of the two, which provide a good source of monounsaturated fat. I have come across nothing in the research to suggest that the fat found necessary for vitamin and mineral absorption must come from extracted oils and the Science Daily study didn’t touch on absorption of nutrients from seeds, nuts or other whole plant-food sources, such as avocados. To me, it seems logical that health benefits would be maximized from eating the whole food rather than an extracted and processed component of the food.
These are my “go-to” dressings. I have at least one of them in my fridge at all times. As well as being oil-free, none contain refined sugar, dairy or soy either, including a “Caesar” dressing that is very satisfying and tastes incredibly like the traditional variety. Each of these dressings pack a punch of flavor and take no time at all to whip up. They all last about a week in the refrigerator.
These dressings are prepared exactly the same way so I won’t belabour this post by repeating the method of preparation for each recipe – I have just listed the ingredients. For the method, place the ingredients for your selected dressing in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. That’s all there is to it!
Creamy Black Sesame Seed Dressing
A hint of sweetness from maple or date syrup make this a delicious choice for both green salads or fruit salads. You can switch the black sesame seeds with poppy seeds if you like.
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp. minced shallots
- 1 tbsp. maple or date syrup (homemade)
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. black sesame seeds or poppy seeds
This is an adaptation of an oil-free chipotle dressing recipe by anunrefinedvegan.com The chipotle in adobo sauce gives this dressing quite a kick so start with a small amount and increase to satisfy your tastebuds. The 1/2 tsp measure is perfect for me.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp. raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. chile powder
- 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
Imagine! A creamy Caesar dressing with no eggs, dairy or fish! And no other unhealthy ingredients either! This is an all-time favourite in my family – you’ll love it!
I have included a recipe for a quick almond cheese (tastes like Parmesan) for those who would miss the addition of cheese in their Caesar salad. However, I have to say, this dressing tastes every bit as good as a traditional Caesar dressing and the salad is delightful with or without the mock Parmesan.
This dressing calls for dulse flakes. Dulse is a type of red seaweed that has been harvested for its high mineral content for hundreds of years along the shores of Canada, the Atlantic coast, Ireland and Norway. Dulse flakes are added because they impart a salty and mild fishy flavour – they take the place of the anchovies called for in a traditional Caesar dressing. But don’t be put off – dulse flakes are not at all overpowering and they contribute to the rich depth of flavour in this dressing.
Dulse flakes can turn the colour of the dressing a little pink. This doesn’t bother me, in fact the pinkish hue is barely noticeable when the salad is tossed, but if it bothers you, rather than adding dulse flakes to the blender with everything else, stir them into the dressing at the end, after everything else is well blended. Your dressing will be speckled, but whiter.
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 celery stalk
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
- 2 tsp dulse flakes, crumbled (optional)
- 3/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp maple or date syrup
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled, halved
- croutons, gluten-free
Almond Cheese (mock Parmesan)
Pulse the following ingredients in a small nut grinder or coffee grinder just until combined. Sprinkle over salad before serving to boost the cheesy flavour and add texture.
- 2 tbsp. almond meal
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. lemon juice
Note: Caesar salad dressing revised November 6, 2015